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No. 3 Tigers claw by Mavericks for Section 3 crown

FOLLOWING A BLOCK — Martin County West running back Jaxson Rohmann (43) follows blocks by Maverick teammates Miles Fitzgerald (right), Jacob Fiala (50) and Raine Stade (1) to gain yardage against Springfield during the Section 3A football championship game Friday at Mattke Field on the Southwest Minnesota State University campus in Marshall. (Photo courtesy of Steve Muscatello/New Ulm Journal)

MARSHALL — Elation for the Tigers, heartbreak for the Mavericks.

With only 15 seconds on the clock, Springfield quarterback Decker Scheffler found Nolan Hovland in the back corner of the end zone for a touchdown to take a 23-21 lead. The 5-yard score capped a 13-play, 63-yard drive that included two fourth-down conversions.

The Mavericks ran five plays for 15 yards after the ensuing kickoff, but couldn’t score.

Class A No. 3-ranked Springfield won the Section 3A football championship over Martin County West 23-21 at Mattke Field on the campus of Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall on Friday.

Springfield (10-0) moves on to face Blooming Prairie in the Class A state quarterfinals in Janesville at noon next Saturday.

Tiger head coach Bob Fink said he had a feeling a special moment was coming.

“We were just lucky to have the ball for the final drive,” Fink said. “It’s strange, I’ve coached a few state baseball teams and sometimes you feel like you’re a team of destiny. We caught breaks, there’s no question about it, and we made breaks. Our quarterback made some great passes, our receivers made some great catches. I had all the faith in the world.”

The Mavericks ended their season with a record of 7-4, making it to their section championship for the first time in more than two decades.

“I’m proud of the effort,” said Maverick head coach Tom Elliott. “We gave up a touchdown on the first drive, which is something that has plagued us against better teams. But like these kids always do, they buckled down, they bit the mouthpiece a little harder and they started playing.

“We’re extremely happy with the season. Going from 1-8 (last year) to 7-4 and playing for a section title is huge. I talked to the boys about how the focus now for the younger guys is we don’t go backwards. We don’t step back. We sent the seniors out with a hard-fought game, but from here on out when they come back to watch Maverick football, it’s going to be a sustained level of excellence.”

The Tigers came out of halftime with a 10-0 lead, then made back-to-back crucial plays.

MCW received the second-half kickoff, then Springfield’s Scheffler recovered a fumble on the Mavericks’ second play.

Scheffler and the Tigers took a shot on the first play of the ensuing drive. Scheffler handed off to Mason Rummel, who pitched the ball to Jake Rosenstengel coming around the right side. Rosenstengel pitched back to Scheffler, who found Jordan Toll wide open deep down the field for the flee-flicker touchdown.

Down 17-0, the Mavericks began to storm back.

Jaxson Rohman carried the ball five times for 37 yards on the next Maverick drive, including a 7-yard touchdown run off the right guard.

In the fourth quarter, MCW forced a Tiger 4th-and-2 from the Mavericks’ 28, then Payton Anderson got in the backfield for a tackle for loss to give MCW the ball with 8:23 left.

Wyatt Geistfeld orchestrated a 12-play, 69-yard drive, including a 25-yard pass to Miles Fitzgerald on the right seam and a 15-yard pass to Zach Anderson, who fought through contact to get close to the end zone. Anderson fumbled at the goal line, but recovered the ball in the end zone for the touchdown to bring the Mavericks within 17-14 with 4:44 left.

After a penalty on the ensuing onside kick attempt, the Mavericks kicked it deep with all three timeouts remaining.

They made another 4th-and-2 stop, this time on the Tigers’ 38, after Fitzgerald laid a big hit on Tori Helget who was trying to take a shovel pass around the right side of the line.

Rohman and Geistfeld led the Mavericks all 38 yards, with Geistfeld hitting Anderson for a 15-yard score again to put up the Mavericks’ 21st unanswered point and take a 21-17 lead with only 1:56 left. Alec Weir made all three extra-point kicks for the Mavericks.

Springfield scored 10 in the first half when Scheffler found Hovland in the end zone on a crossing route for a 9-yard score and Mark Peschges hit a 23-yard field goal with 5:39 left before halftime. Peschges also made two extra-point kicks for the Tigers.

MCW had a chance to put points on the board just before halftime, but a field goal attempt went wide right to keep the Mavericks scoreless.

Rohman led the Mavericks with 29 carries for 143 yards, while Geistfeld completed 11 of 26 passes for 155 yards through the air.

Scheffler completed 19 of 30 passes for 150 yards for Springfield.

SPR 7 3 7 6 — 23

MCW 0 0 7 14 — 21

Scoring Plays

1st Quarter

SPR–Nolan Hovland 9 pass from Decker Scheffler (Mark Peschges kick), 9:50.

2nd Quarter

SPR–Peschges 23 field goal, 5:39.

3rd Quarter

SPR–Jordan Toll 43 pass from Scheffler (Peschges kick), 11:01.

MCW–Jaxson Rohman 7 run (Alec Weir kick), 7:57.

4th Quarter

MCW–Zach Anderson 15 pass from Wyatt Geistfeld (Weir kick), 4:44.

MCW–Anderson 15 pass from Geistfeld (Weir kick), 1:56.

SPR–Hovland 5 pass from Sceffler (kick failed), 0:15.

TEAM STATISTICS

First downs: MCW 14; SPR 19. Rushing: MCW 40-147; SPR 40-233. Passing: MCW 11-26-2-155; SPR 19-30-0-150. Fumbles-lost: MCW 2-1; SPR 3-1. Penalties: MCW 7-70; SPR 11-100.

INDIVIDUAL STATS

Passing: Wyatt Geistfeld (MCW) 11-26-2-155; Decker Scheffler (SPR) 19-30-0-150. Rushing: Jaxson Rohman (MCW) 29-153; Mason Rummel (SPR) 17-121; Kaiden Johnson (SPR) 13-67. Receiving: Nolan Havland (SPR) 5-48; Jordan Toll (SPR) 3-55; Derek Dunlop (MCW) 4-57.

Defense: Interceptions: Decker Scheffler (SPR), Owen Bertram (SPR). Fumble recoveries: Payton Anderson (MCW), Decker Scheffler (SPR).

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